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2nd Cavalry Strykers pack added punch during Bavarian forest exercise

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Mendez Frith, 2nd Cavalry Regiment targeting officer, leads the first targeting working group during Dragoon Ready at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center, Hohenfels, Germany, Oct. 20, 2018.

ELLEN C. BRABO/U.S. ARMY

By MARTIN EGNASH | STARS AND STRIPES Published: October 25, 2018

HOHENFELS, Germany — Sgt. Franklin Santana ran resupply missions with his truck, hauling much-needed ammunition and other supplies down narrow forest paths, amid the sounds of gunfire and the constant threat of “enemies” closing in.

He camouflaged his giant Palletized Load System vehicle in a tight fit between the trees so the enemy – played by other U.S. soldiers — couldn’t spot it. His team resupplied soldiers with anti-armor rounds and concertina wire to fortify their positions.

“Day-to-day is always on the go,” Santana said. “A lot has happened. The increased tempo and pressure from the opposition forces make it hard on us. But this place is designed to place us in great amounts of stress.”

Santana was among more than 3,000 soldiers from the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment, which completed its certification Thursday for contingency operations in Europe.

The Vilseck-based regiment, which uses upgunned Stryker armored vehicles, kicked off exercise Dragoon Ready on Sunday. It has since been engaged in a mock battle deep in the Bavarian forests against opposition forces.

The mock battle began when the enemy assaulted the regiment with armored and infantry forces. The unit repelled the attack using its Strykers to support dismounted troops and by calling in simulated artillery fire during the battle. Soldiers fired live artillery rounds against targets the prior week.

The unit was aided by added firepower from two new additions to the Stryker family — the “Dragoon Stryker” armed with a 30 mm autocannon and the CROWS-J Stryker with Javelin anti-tank missiles. These provide the eight-wheeled vehicles with a huge boost in firepower, compared with the once-standard M2 .50-caliber machine guns.

Capt. Charles Ridge, an artillery battery commander, said the new Strykers, which were added to the regiment’s inventory during the past year, ensured greater range and lethality when engaging armored targets. “They performed really well,” he said.

Ridge and his fellow artillerymen spent much of the exercise providing support to the Strykers on the front lines, by simulating shelling the opposition force and punching holes into the enemy’s lines.

“Our job is to neutralize, suppress and destroy enemy assets on the battlefield,” Ridge said. “We bring a lot to the fight.”

Dragoon Ready is intended to test the regiment’s readiness and doubles as an annual certification that it can execute land operations alongside other units.

egnash.martin@stripes.com
Twitter: @Marty_Stripes

U.S. soldiers assigned to 2nd Cavalry Regiment fire an M2 .50-caliber machine gun during exercise Dragoon Ready at the 7th Army Training Command's Grafenwoehr training area, Germany, Oct. 17, 2018.
MARKUS RAUCHENBERGER/U.S. ARMY

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